After years of living in denial about the effects of concussions on player’s health, a high-ranking NFL official has finally acknowledged that the injuries acquired in the football field could lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) — a degenerative disease discovered in the brains of several former professional athletes.
The National Football League’s senior vice president for health and safety, Jeff Miller, admitted the link between the two during a discussion organized by the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Energy and Commerce on Monday.
“Do you think there is a link between football and degenerative brain disorders like CTE?” asked Rep. Jan Schakowsky.
Miller responded with a reference to Boston University’s neuropathologist Dr. Ann McKee, who has found CTE in the brains of 90 out of 94 former football players.
“Well, certainly, Dr. McKee’s research shows that a number of retired NFL players were diagnosed with CTE, so the answer to that question is certainly ‘yes,’ but there are also a number of questions that come with that,” the vice president said, adding there was indeed a link between the two.
Unfortunately, the degenerative disorder can only be diagnosed after death.
Up until now, the NFL, mostly with the help of rheumatologist Dr. Elliot Pellman, had repeatedly downplayed the depth and gravity of football-related injuries — which wasn’t surprising, since they had a lot of money at stake and more than a few lawsuits awaiting them.
Along with negating Pellman’s series of medical papers claiming it was OK to send concussed players back into games, Miller’s first-of-its-kind statement also runs counter to that provided by Dr. Mitch Berger, a member of the NFL's Head, Neck and Spine Committee, during the Super Bowl weekend.
“There's no question that you can find degenerative changes that are indicative of CTE in individuals who have played football," Berger told the Toronto Star at the time. “Whether it's from football, whether it's from car accidents, gunshot wounds, domestic violence, remains to be seen.”
Although this revelation, or its admission to be precise, would not bring the golden age of American football to an end, but it will definitely affect it to some extent.
The league or the medical professionals, who oh-so-vehemently denied the long-term dangers of bashing one’s head against the football, ground and other players, have yet to comment on the matter.
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Thumbnail/Banner Credits: REUTERS/Mike Blake